Progressives At The Bat

Something is happening in the political world. Folks are beginning to catch on. They’re beginning to see the linkage between surging wealth for the few and austerity for the rest, and longing for a return to America’s post-War II fair wealth distribution and prosperity for the many economic model. Here’s a baseball season poetry knockoff describing what this might mean in the next election…

Progressives At The Bat

It looked extremely rocky for progressives in D.C.,
The folks they’d long depended on to others bent a knee,
The White House rarely answered calls, the Senate mostly cowed,
Tea party members ran the House, “We’ll make the rules,” they vowed.

But out there where the Beltway gang is rarely ever seen,
In countless places o’er the land where the living had gone mean,
The days of settling for a phrase, for promises unmet,
A spirit craving real change, these bad times did beget.

Yes in our nation’s capital they still ain’t yet caught on,
They still to Wall Street genuflect, buy the right’s self-serving yarn,
They don’t sense the awakening, ain’t twigged to where it’s at,
That progressives next election day will swing the big vote bat.

Michael Silverstein is a former Bloomberg News senior editor;
his latest book is Gorilla Warfare Against The Bureaucratic
State (Confessions of a Lefty Libertarian).


Earth Day Poems

This being Earth Day, here’s some verse for the occasion…

Headline: 2014 was the warmest year ever recorded on earth.

A Harried American’s Response To Global Warming
By Michael Silverstein

It’s winter,
I’m cold,
Maybe global warming’s oversold;
Anyway I’ve bigger cares,
My 401(k)’s oil shares.

You say I’ll soon be mourning?
The new earth that’s aborning?
That human kind is spawning?

I’m not scorning the warning,
Just too busy this morning.


Energy Past And Future

Why do we raid the burial grounds
Of long dead creatures for coal?
For oil and methane from these old remains
Why is this our energy goal?

The sun and the wind, the motion of waves,
The heat ‘neath our feet underground;
Are there to be tapped, to be used, and enjoyed
Live energy sources abound.

We’ve gone from the horse for private transport,
Keep in touch in a host of new ways;
It’s time, truly time, for a better resort
Navigating the energy maze.


Canuting Renewable Energy

King Canute was a silly old coot
When his power he planned to be showing
With the help of his church he would stand on the beach
Tell the waters: “You gotta stop flowing.”

Fossil fuel kings and their money church pals
Now stand on the energy shore
To the sun and the wind and the heat of the earth
They proclaim: “We’ll permit just a bit but no more.”

Canute’s quirky play, to control ocean waves
Just reflected his times’ power thinking
Today (nothing new) fossil fuel’s power crew
Think their gaming can stop their own shrinking.


The Global Warming Poem

Locked in human-centric thinking
The content of our daily plays
The Mid East, Ukraine, and the markets,
Our focus of dismays these days.

Icecaps melting freakish storms
Species fall offs, floods and droughts
Growing worries, yes, we’re worried
But how important…most still have doubts.

When soon the process reaches end game
Our fool behavior, its course has run
The global warming tipping point
Has come, we’ll look and know
We’re done.


Utilities’ Solar Angst

Utilities are frightened,
They’re starting to run scared.
Solar energy’s becoming
Competition to be feared.

Solar units on more buildings,
Working better, getting cheaper,
For utilities’ own future,
It’s a bottom line grim reaper.

In Washington ‘bout energy,
Hot air and mindless gropes,
While a solar revolution
Circumvents the DC dopes.


Global Warming — The Poem

The planet’s on slow boil,
Its temperatures are rising,
You’d think more folks would worry,
Most don’t — which is surprising.

Greenhouse gases are the cause,
Their main source is CO2,
Long trapped methane getting loose,
Adds to this climatic stew

Shrinking ice caps, freaky weather,
Fauna, flora, disappearing
Oceans on more lands intruding,
Wiser heads now feel despairing.

Can we somehow meet the challenge,
Check this global wide assault?
Or just deny the threat is real,
And if it is say: “Ain’t our fault.”

Mike Silverstein’s newest book is Gorilla Warfare Against The Bureaucratic State (Confessions of a Lefty Libertarian)

Here’s the way the game is being played today by many state governments. To address huge budget deficits, taxing the rich is first taken off the table because…well, just because. The remaining choices are then to either do away with desperately needed programs for the very poor, or squeeze the pay and benefits won over many years by public service unions. This following little ditty describes the latter — from the perspective of its perps…

The Evil Public Service Unions Poem

The unions are the problem,
They cost the public gobs,
Of money that would otherwise
Create free market jobs.

We need some strong correctives
To these socialist collectives,
‘Cause the unions we reviles
Foster middle class lifestyles.

These bad times can be good ones
To tramp down the union blight,
In the name of fiscal sanity
Get the system moved hard right.

Making Poetry Relevant In America With A Glee-Like TV Series

Percy Shelley called poets “the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” which at various times and in many places they truly were. Robert Frost said “poetry is a way of taking life by the throat,” and also opined that “poetry is the best possible way of saying almost anything,” Both these views are also certainly true. Which raises this question: In America today, why doesn’t poetry exercise its power to shape legislation, grab more lives by the throat, and be recognized as the best possible way to say so many things?

I think I know the answer. It just hasn’t yet found the right packaging in the right medium.

For years I thought that medium might be the Op Ed pages of newspapers. A foolish notion. These days the Op Ed pages at most large dailies are just dumping grounds for endless repetitions of conventional ideas and opinions by think tank hirelings, out-of-work pols, and the occasional local college academic. Unconventional views are disdained. Currently out-of-fashion modes of expression like poetry totally beyond consideration.

I felt a comparable incompatibility existed when it came to poetry and television. Then the Fox show “Glee” came along and now I think otherwise.

The plotline of “Glee mixes song and dance by talented young people within a long unpopular high school backwater (glee clubs) with the personal angst and romantic attachments of the show’s players. This offbeat mixture has spawned a slew of knockoffs on other channels. More importantly, it has mightily raised interest in a too long ignored part of our educational system and the kids who participate in it.

What a wonderful template for a show about a group of poets. Take a half dozen of them, each an updated version of a great poet past — like a seemingly simple working man with religious poetic visions (Blake); a very plain looking homebody who everyone ignores until she hesitantly recites her poetry (Dickinson); an experience hungry self-promoter who has traveled everywhere in America and been touched by everything he’s seen (Whitman); an angry howler against a society he thinks has gone totally nuts (Ginsberg); a hedonistic pleasure seeker (St. Vincent Millay).

Let the lives and works of a group like this play out separately and against each other — the way it does on “Glee.” These poets would not expect fame and certainly not fortune from their art, of course, they just can’t seem to stop loving words. Throw in contests that could actually generate money (slams), and readings where the pain flows freely when the readers outnumber the audience. Keep the project out of the hands of academics. Maybe call the show “Rhyme.”

We’ve got a lot of ranting in this country. A lot of spin doctoring. A lot of promo and hype. What we don’t have a lot of, what we need, is a lot more poetry. A popular poetry TV show featuring young people with whom a large audience can identify might be the mechanism to get it. Gleefully.